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Author Topic: Need help from the bow meisters on evaluating new Raposo pernambuco bows –  (Read 1225 times)

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Offline Iceburg

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In my first real attempt to make a significant upgrade to my primary bow, today I  picked up  3 silver mounted pernambuco bows by Marcos Raposo from Brazil  (– all $1200 Cdn) for a 1 week trial period.

Background:
I currently have 5 bows in my collection, 2 Codas (Diamond GX & a Joule), a cf Chinese,  plus 2 cheap (read unusable) no-name wood bows.

Primary genres of interest: classical, gypsy, gypsy jazz, milk cow type blues, (some pop & folk)  …the gamut of sweet and cerebral to down-home dirty & percussive
Years experience: 3 years 
Hours played per day: > 3

Evaluation Process:
I am using a standard set of tests on all three of my violins (a 4-string Gliga Gama, 4-string Bulgarian Peter Dobrev, and a 5-string Bradviarius). I am running the Raposos head-to-head against my best 2 bows -- the Coda Joule (a bow I bought specifically for my 5 string Bradivarius) and a newly re-haired Coda GX. All 5 bows (the 3 Raposos, and the 2 Codas) have a) new hair and b) the same brand of rosin applied. All 3 instruments were restrung 3 weeks ago. The Coda Joule seems to be a good match for the 5 string, especially the C string. But the 5 string, because of the closer proximity of the strings and curvature of the bridge isn’t my instrument of choice for repertoire that goes into the mid to upper positions. So the dream bow I have in mind is primarily for my 4 stringers.

Early Results:
Although it is early in the trial period, so far I can state unequivocally that all of the Raposos handle better at the frog than both Codas, and that one of the Raposos is significantly better handling than the Coda GX for ricochet and spiccato.
That said, I’m a little disappointed with respect to long slow bows (in both upper & lower positions). My expectation was that the Raposo bows would really outperform the Codas in this area – drawing a noticeably cleaner & fuller sound – so far that is not the case. To my ears, there was no clear cut advantage – in fact I could make a case that the Joule has a bit of an edge in this realm. To my eyes: I did a very close inspection of the Raposos’ hair (even got out my trusty magnifying glass …science, eh??:-) – to my surprise, (even to the naked eye) the hair-job of the Raposos looks somewhat inferior – a few loose hairs visible when tightened, a few hairs with permanent kinks, a few hairs crossing others etc – while both my Codas seem a picture of perfection in this respect.  I have had a few problems in the past with re-hairs (not enough hair, too many, too much on one side etc) so I’m a tad neurotic about hair inspection. 

Other observations about the Rasposo bows: One is .5 cm longer than the other two (at same tension). Interestingly, the longer of the three weighs about 1.5 grams less than the shorter of the bows.
Questions:
Do you think a less than optimal hair-job would be at the root;-) of the underwhelming tonal quality? OR – are these small imperfections in hairing of little or no consequence? OR should I see a therapist about my re-hair obsession?:)
I realize that only having only 3 years under my belt opens up the strong & logical possibility that my ears and/or my skills are just not there yet to take full advantage of an upgrade.
That said, I can appreciate the significantly better handling qualities of the Raposos compared to my Codas, but I’m really having a hard time believing that tonally they surpass either one of my Codas. Are my expectations too high for this price range? (I am aware that the asking price is on the high for that particular model of bow)

Any or all advice is welcome ….even if it is try another brand.

Ps. It just occurred to me …maybe I need a better violin …YIKES!!! (of course I’d never part with my 5 string – never!)




Offline Joe Gerardi

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The better the bow, the better your technique better be. I had a Raposo and found that it worked wonderfully. That said, I did indeed need to work it more, but the good news is that it responds better than lesser bows to that.

Go at it again a little more aggressively, and I think you will be surprised.

..Joe
"Some people are like a Slinky... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs"

Offline Iceburg

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Thanks for the feedback Joe.
I'm ready to follow your advice but could you please explain what you mean by "go at it again a little more aggressively"? Do you mean simply just keep pushing its limits for the entire week (which I intend to do) or something else?

Offline Joe Gerardi

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Generally, I find the better the bow, the softer the wood. Consequently, it requires a little more weight overall, a more aggressive right arm, and more work from the right hand and fingers. It's like a high performance car: lightly tapping the gas and driving at 55, it doesn't seem anything special; stomp on it and take it to 120 into a chicane and it really performs!

..Joe
"Some people are like a Slinky... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs"

Offline Iceburg

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Thanks Joe -- having done a little racing in my youth (all legal, really:) I can related to your analogy. I'll put them through their paces tomorrow.

 




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